Ah yes, sorry about that! Some of the exercises are available here; there are more in the book :)

How to have a happy quarantine

by mingyuan 3 min read15th Mar 202020 comments

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As you may have noticed, things in the world are a bit cuckoo bananas right now. Social distancing is becoming increasingly widespread, which means that people are going to be experiencing social isolation at an unprecedented level. In this age of global connectedness, this seems really scary to some people, but I prefer to think of it as something akin to the experience of weathering a snowy winter in a log cabin on the western frontier. That is, cozy and exciting!

I live in a house with about ten people. We all have different personalities and we're all afraid of going stir-crazy spending five months together, so I did some research on how we can avoid that. (We also have a dry-erase monthly calendar where we can plan out activities!) Below are my ideas :)


Epistemic status: these recommendations are based on a combination of (1) things that are required or recommended for astronauts, (2) recommendations for people homebound due to injuries, chronic illnesses, or old age, and (3) common sense.

Body interventions:

  • If at all possible, get fresh air and sunshine at least once a day.
  • Get at least light exercise at least once a day; ideally get heavy exercise regularly.
  • Get enough sleep, water, and calories.
  • Eat a variety of foods that you enjoy!

Brain interventions:

  • Regularly video chat loved ones who aren't quarantined with you.
  • Talk to a therapist online, if possible.
  • Meditate. There are lots of guided meditations available online and via apps, some of which are free.
  • Stick to a basic routine that you endorse. For example, you might want to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, or do daily exercise.
  • Change out of sleep clothes and into day clothes each day. If you are a newly minted remote worker, this is especially important, and you may want to set up additional "going to work", "leaving work", and "lunch break" routines.
  • Have projects to work on; set goals that feel meaningful to you.
  • Get around to those things you always meant to do but didn’t have time for, e.g. learning a certain skill, cleaning out a certain room, or reading a certain book.
  • Make sure you get real alone time, even if you're sharing a room.
  • Do things that are fun for you! e.g. watch movies, make art, have sex, read, dance.
  • Gratitude journaling. Try to write down three or more things you're grateful for each day, or exchange gratitudes with a friend or partner verbally.
  • Plan at least one thing to do each day. This will give your day structure and purpose!
  • Clean the house regularly so that your living environment stays fresh and nice.
  • Celebrate birthdays and other holidays just as you normally would; take these opportunities to dress up nice/put on makeup if it makes you happy.

And remember that everyone else is in a similarly stressful situation to you. Interpersonal conflicts are fairly likely to arise, and you need to do your best to minimize their impact on your household. For some people that might mean you need to walk away from the situation for a while rather than letting it escalate. Maybe you need to talk to a trusted friend and/or try third-party mediation. Maybe you need to let your feelings out in a dance battle. In any case, dealing with conflict in a way that minimizes negative externalities is really important. I’d love to hear additional advice on this.

Big list of activities

Activities you can do alone

Group activities

  • Teach each other stuff (e.g. math, singing)
  • Dance parties
  • Morning calisthenics
  • Show each other cool movies
  • Smell identifying contest
  • Tasting exercises from the book Taste
  • Become a choir
  • Video game tournament
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Give each other makeovers
  • Contest to build the strongest structure out of something you have around the house
  • Learn a synchronized dance
  • Sleepover night: make a blanket fort and eat popcorn and watch movies in your PJs
  • Karaoke
  • Cook-off
  • Picnic (can be indoors or in a yard, if you have one)
  • Truth or dare
  • Hide and seek
  • Easter egg hunt (didn’t stock up on eggs? that’s okay! hide something else!)
  • Photo shoot
  • Shadow puppet show
  • Shakespeare read-throughs
  • Improv exercises from Impro
  • Play banal card games like kids do
  • Paper airplane contest
  • Board games
  • Wrestling
  • Badminton
  • Quidditch
  • The floor is lava
  • Collaborative online games
  • Opt-in mandatory daily exercise
  • Shared meals
  • Watch a long TV show together, one or two episodes per day
  • Set up passive Skype calls with other houses so it’s kind of like we’re hanging out in each other’s living rooms
  • Spelling bee
  • Build a Rube Goldberg machine

I welcome other ideas and will add them to the post if you want!

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